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Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Ruby Walsh Q&A - Top jockey on Kauto Star and AP McCoy

William Hill King George VI Chase
Date: 26 December Time: 1505 GMT Racecourse: Kempton Park
Coverage: BBC Radio 5 live, Channel 4, live updates on BBC Sport website

Ruby Walsh at Kempton
Walsh has ridden Kauto Star in all four King George victories

Irish jump jockey Ruby Walsh has ridden some of National Hunt racing's best-known performers including Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded and Big Buck's.

He will miss the ride on Kauto Star through injury when the horse goes for a historic fifth King George VI Chase win at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Walsh, whose CV includes two Cheltenham Gold Cups and two Grand National victories, suffered two breaks to his leg in a fall which will rule him out until early 2011.

The 31-year-old, who is a close friend of 15-time champion jockey and BBC Sports Personality of the Year Tony McCoy, details his career highs and lows in his new biography, Ruby.

He took time out from his recovery to answer questions from users of the BBC's 606 racing section, Twitter and website racing reporter Frank Keogh (FK).

Walsh talks about his injuries, his big wins, top trainers, answers a tweet from pal McCoy, and reveals why he will have mixed feelings over Kauto Star's run.


How is the recovery going, Ruby?(FK)

It's a broken leg, tibia and fibula, and it's a three-month injury whatever way you look at it.

It was early November when I broke it so three months later is early February. That's not an exact science or anything, that's just a ballpark figure. I would be hoping my body recovers well enough that I can make that date. There's no reason why I shouldn't, so fingers crossed.

I've had plenty of time with the family this year. I've been a bit of a write-off. I've spent six months of the year injured - four months with a broken arm from Aintree until the middle of August and November and December on the sidelines with a broken leg. And the start of 2011 as well. My wife Gillian and Isabelle [14-month-old daughter] have seen a lot more of me than they usually would.

There are a lot of people in the world an awful lot worse off than I am. I suppose if I can get out of every year as well as I am coming out of 2010 I'll be happy.

Do you fear there may be a time when you have to give up race riding given the frequency of injuries you have sustained?No1Zebbie (Twitter)

Nobody knows, no jump jockey knows when the time is going to be. It could be tomorrow. Thankfully the injuries I've had haven't been the same injury - they have been new injuries. My arm, legs, nothing I've broken has broken again. Neck and head injuries are the serious ones and thankfully, none of mine have been those. They're the injuries that finish you. But they've all been fixable. The physios, doctors and rehab people are more than happy with my body so I'm not worried. I've had more than my fair share of injuries. It worries you when you're hurt, you're missing and you are not doing what you want to do, but you just want to get back.

You broke your arm in the race before the 2010 Grand National. How did you find out AP McCoy had won on Don't Push It? (FK)

Walsh out of National after heavy fall

Gillian came with me and we were in Fazakerley Hospital. The doctors had assessed me and were making decisions about what they were going to do.

The nurses came and moved me down to the nurses' station and I listened to the commentary of the Grand National on the internet. I think the guy that was doing the commentary had backed the horse I was supposed to ride [Big Fella Thanks] because as far as I could make out he was the only horse getting a mention. For the first five minutes of the race my arm was getting sorer, not better.

He ran a great race under Barry Geraghty but it was AP's day on Don't Push It and it was great for him. I was delighted for him.

There may be a day when you have to completely withdraw from active racing. What would you consider/like to do? (Mamool, 606)

Training definitely interests me. Since I was 10 horses are all I've known. Dad was a trainer, I've grown up with trainers. All my friends were involved with horses. I'd love to train some day. Will I be able to? I won't know 'til I try, but I'm sure I'll give it a go.


Any advice you would give your replacement Noel Fehily, on Kauto Star? (Beeforsalmon, 606)

Noel is a very good rider, so he won't be needing very much tuition from me, and he rides a good tactical race. I will just point out that Kauto likes to go a little bit to his left, simple things like that.

He's a very steady, level guy and that's the way he rides as well. He's been doing a great job and fair play to him.

Why is it you have the biggest grin every time you win on Kauto Star? (MayesKauto28, 606)

Ruby Walsh on Kauto Star
Walsh has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice on Kauto Star

It's just the thrill. He's such a good horse. I love riding him and I guess most of the times I'm riding Kauto Star it's a really big race. There's a lot of pressure on but it's these prestigious races that really count. He's just such a good horse and has been a good horse to me, I thoroughly enjoy riding him.

Who is better: Kauto Star or Denman? (Zenyatta, 606)

Horse races are all about on the day. I know there are questions that raise debate and create interest, but they are hypothetical questions to me. On Gold Cup day 2008 Denman was a better horse, on Gold Cup day 2009 Kauto Star was a better horse. They've only met three times and Kauto Star fell the other time. It's hard to say who is superior. Kauto Star has won more Grade Ones, Denman has won two Hennessys off top weight. Immense performances. The handicapper at various times has rated Denman higher than Kauto Star and Kauto Star higher than Denman. It's whichever way your allegiance falls. I hate suggesting one is better than the other.

Would you consider riding Denman instead in March or is your allegiance towards Kauto Star?(Raid03, 606)

You've got to get there first, and so have the horses. Kauto Star has been a better horse to me because I've won more races on him. They are two wonderful horses to have had anything to do with and I've been in a privileged enough position to have ridden both.

Has Denman been affected by the heart scare he had? (ShergarDenman, 606)

I'm sure he has. He got beaten by Madison Du Berlais who would not be able to beat Denman usually. Then he ran a cracking race in the Gold Cup and ended up falling at Aintree before coming back and winning a Hennessy. I would say there has been no long-term damage but at the time, it was a long road to recovery, and that's no different from anybody with a heart problem. When you reach such exultant heights with Denman, it's a long way back. He did get back, it just took him time to get there.

Will you be at Kempton on Boxing Day? (FK)

I'll be at home for Christmas with Gillian and Isabelle. I won't travel. In my own selfish way it will be a sad enough day watching him winning without me so I think I'd rather be on my own. I'll definitely watch it because horses are my life. He's been such a good horse to me that I'm sure as hell going to be supporting him. I'll watch it but not in the public eye.

Would a fifth win cement Kauto Star's place as one of the chasing greats? (FK)

I'm one of four people, including Noel presuming he gets there, who have been privileged enough to ride him. There's Sam Thomas, me, Mick Fitzgerald and Noel. In time to come people will say: 'Do you remember Kauto Star? And I will say: 'I rode him.' Because that's the kind of horse he's going to be. I think down the line he will be spoken of in the same way as Desert Orchid, Arkle, those kind of horses.

He's an amazing horse. Speed, class, stamina. He has everything.


Out of all the big wins you had, which one meant the most to you? (Twist Magic, 606)

On an emotional level, Papillon's Grand National [2000} was that bit different. He was trained by dad [Ted], I'd been out for six months with a broken leg, things hadn't been going great and all of a sudden Papillon turns up. It was my first ride in the Grand National and he won. Blood is thicker than water, whatever way you look at it. As regards my career on a personal level, I would say Kauto Star's first Gold Cup. There was a lot riding on that. There was the £1m bonus. People wondered if he would get the trip of three and a quarter miles. So that was fantastic.


How difficult is it for a trainer like Paul Nicholls to bring horses like Denman and Master Minded back to their best after setbacks? (FK)

It's not as simple as it sounds. It's not a case of send them off to the doctor, give them the recovery period and bring them back. It's a huge plus in Paul Nicholls' ability as a trainer. It's a great thing to be able to do. He's done that, brought Denman back, and Master Minded from a difficult season to what looks like being a great year. It's a big plus for Paul and the team at Ditcheat, including Clifford Baker and Dan Skelton and all the rest of the staff, like Donald Blake. It's a huge team effort. They all work incredibly hard.

How do the two main trainers you ride for, Nicholls and Willie Mullins, compare? (FK)

Two champion trainers. They are totally different. The only thing they have in common is they are exceptional trainers. They are both driven men, they both want success, they are both businessmen and they are two good people to work with and good friends.


Are there any juveniles you have ridden or seen that have impressed you? (Graeme, 606)

Sam Winner looks very good of the ones that are out. Paul has a couple that haven't run yet and you don't know with juveniles until they run. Willie has a couple of unraced Bumper horses but I'm not a great believer in ante-post as things can go wrong. I think it is a bookmakers' benefit. They push it and plug it.

Will Fiveforthree go novice chasing and if so how good could he be? (Redrum-Albert Bridge, 606)

He's a great horse but he's obviously a difficult horse to train. He's a bit injury prone. His form in the book is exceptional and I would imagine he will go novice chasing. We have just been held up so badly with the snow in Ireland, he hasn't been out.

Is Silvinano Conti a genuine Champion Hurdle contender? (Odddog, 606)

I've never had the privilege of riding him. I was at Chepstow the first day he won at Bangor, I was suspended the second day he won at Chepstow and I had a broken leg the next two times he ran. Could he be a Champion Hurdle horse? Listen, he's a four-year-old, he's a cracking horse and he's going to be one hell of a chaser.


Do you think AP McCoy deserved to win Sports Personality of the Year? (Cambamboo, 606)

Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh at a charity golf event in Ireland
McCoy and Walsh at a charity golf event in Ireland

You couldn't ask me a question to which I'd give a more biased answer. Of course I do. He's a good friend.

The respect I have for what AP McCoy has done is immense, huge. I've always felt privileged to have been around him and I would hate to be trying to fill his boots when the next guy comes along and tries to be the champion jockey in England and do what AP has done. What he does on horses is immense. I ride completely differently to AP because you simply couldn't ride like him. He's a unique and brilliant talent.

Do you support AP McCoy's decision not to speak to Racing UK? (Rockybobby88, Twitter)
[McCoy was upset at perceived questioning of his integrity by TV channel pundits over a ride on hurdler Get Me Out of Here at Ascot]

Everybody gets upset with things that are said from time to time. I had my own spat with Channel Four after the Gold Cup. You get annoyed at times and down the road you look back and think were you right or wrong? AP is a very strong-minded person and that's the way he feels. He is entitled to take his own stance. I work for Racing UK and I'm sponsored by them, so it is a bit tricky. We are fortunate to live in a democracy where we are entitled to our opinion.

Ruby told me the King George wouldn't be run until the second week in February because of the weather and that he would be back to ride Kauto Star. Does everyone think he's as funny as I do? (Champion jockey AP McCoy, Twitter)

Ha ha. That's my Christmas wish but I don't think it's going to come true. I wish it would.


What physical and mental training do you undertake during the National Hunt racing calendar? (SilverBuck, 606)

Racing is pretty much seven days a week so your training is your game time. When I'm injured, I do a lot. At the moment, I'm working out four times a week in the gym.

Which is your favourite, or least favourite, sporting event of the year? What's your favourite movie? What is your favourite comedy series from the past or present?(Smug Punter, 606)

I like all big sporting events, watching the four Majors in golf, the Six Nations, the Heineken Cup, the Premier League, the GAA football championship. I even like the Twenty20 cricket but I don't have a least favourite. I played rugby for Naas [scrum-half] when I was younger and I really enjoy watching the rugby.

I was a huge fan of the movie Braveheart. Slumdog Millionaire was a brilliant film.

I did like Only Fools and Horses. I don't watch comedy in general. I prefer the likes of Grey's Anatomy. I love watching the X-Factor, that's great entertainment. Between ourselves and our friends, we had a little bet, and I was on Matt Cardle for the last 12 weeks so I collected the money, thank God.

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see also
McCoy rides favourite Kauto Star
24 Dec 10 |  Horse Racing
Jockey McCoy 'humbled' by award
19 Dec 10 |  Sport Homepage
Walsh has surgery on broken leg
07 Nov 10 |  Horse Racing
Walsh bullish for King George bid
04 Nov 10 |  Horse Racing
Ruby Walsh out of Grand National
10 Apr 10 |  Northern Ireland
Historic Gold Cup win for Kauto
13 Mar 09 |  Horse Racing
Ruby's family affair at Cheltenham
17 Mar 10 |  Horse Racing
Papillon wins National thriller
08 Apr 00 |  Grand National

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